Leeds

Leeds is the largest city in the county of West Yorkshire. Once a major industrial centre, the city today is more well known for being the largest financial centre in the UK outside of London, as well as for its impressive shopping, nightlife, universities and sports facilities. Leeds also has a growing cultural reputation, being home to many museums, restaurants and theatres, and a mixture of Georgian, Victorian, 20th and 21st century architecture.

Districts

The view of Leeds from the M621.
Districts of Leeds

There are various places of interest, shops, restaurants, historic sites, etc. outside of the city centre and the above districts. These are listed geographically in the following guides:

Understand

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 7 7 9 12 16 18 21 21 17 13 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) 2 2 3 4 7 10 12 12 10 7 4 3
Precipitation (mm) 87 64 68 63 56 67 51 64 64 74 78 92

See the 5 day forecast for Leeds at the Met Office

Leeds (derived from the Celtic area Leodis) was voted UK's favourite city in Condé Nast's Readers' Traveller Awards 2003. It was a market town that became an industrial powerhouse and grew and developed into a service-based city economy with an attractive, smart centre.

Roman Leeds was an important strategic fort, ford and small settlement on the York-Chester road. Recorded in the Domesday book of 1086, it became a thriving market town in the Middle Ages, gaining its town charter from the King in 1207. The medieval city was based around Briggate, Kirkgate, Swinegate and The Calls. (The ending "-gate" came from the old Norse for 'street'.) It was a trading centre in the West Riding of Yorkshire for cloth and wool; from Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield to the port of Hull, east along the river Aire and the 1699 Aire & Calder Navigation canal. Whilst the town grew rapidly (population over 30,000 in the eighteenth century, when the gracious Georgian West End was built), it was for a long time economically overshadowed by nearby York.

The industrial revolution brought about massive change as it became a huge manufacturing centre of wool and textiles and a major trading centre (with over half the country's export passing through for a period). Leeds became known as the city of a thousand trades and by the middle of the nineteenth century the population had passed 200,000. Bolstered by the 1816 Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the Leeds-Selby railway in 1835 (The Middleton Railway was the world's first commercial railway, 1758 Railway Act, from The Middleton colliery to coal-staithes (sidings) at Meadow Lane just south of Leeds Bridge), the city continued to grow and prosper rapidly, with grandiose architectural manifestations of the Victorian city's wealth built in abundance, and expanding affluent suburbs to the north. Leeds University was created around the 1880s, bringing an intellectual dimension, and Leeds was served by one of the world's most extensive tram systems (sadly later replaced by buses). A garden in Roundhay, Leeds was the location of the world's first moving images, filmed in 1888 by Frenchman Louis le Prince (who later disappeared in mysterious circumstances). Leeds was granted city status in 1893.

By the twentieth century, Leeds's population was approaching 500,000. Whilst Leeds suffered far less than many other large UK cities from the WWII blitz, it was affected by the mass industrial decline of the country in the post-war period, and became characterised by unemployment and huge council estates. Versatility enabled it to survive and it began to prosper in the 1980s, when renovation of the centre and waterfront, and demolition of some of the worst estates began. By the 1990s the city was reborn with wealth based on service industries and commerce, the financial and legal centres making it the most important city in the UK in these areas outside London. With the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Armouries, restoration of the Victoria Quarter and Corn Exchange, the clean up of major historical buildings, the new Harvey Nichols store and new bars, shops and restaurants - all in the mid 90s, the city was truly on the move. The most recent Census (2001) shows Leeds with a population of just over 715,000.

Today, Leeds is still one of the most cosmopolitan, fast-growing, innovative and prosperous cities in the UK with developments springing up by the week and new bars, boutiques, clubs and restaurants seemingly more often, the two universities adding to the vibrancy, and international eateries and shops.

Tourist information centre

Visit Leeds and Art Gallery Shop, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AA.

Get in

By plane

There is a regular bus service (the 757) into the city (journey time 35 minutes) and cabs are plentiful.

Car parks serving Leeds Bradford Airport
Address On/Off Airport Distance / Transfer Time Security Park Mark
Award
Additional Information
Long Stay Car Park Leeds Bradford International Airport,
Leeds, LS19 7TU
On 0.7 miles / 5 minutes Round-the-clock CCTV coverage, security fencing, entry/exit barriers and security patrols. Yes Maximum vehicle height is 2.5 metres.
Sentinel Security Car Park Warren House Lane,
Yeadon, West Yorkshire, LS19 7FT
Off 0.8 miles / 3 minutes CCTV, 24-hour security guards, barbed-wire security fencing and floodlighting. Yes Trailers are permitted, but will be charged for an extra space.
LBA Car Watch Parking Coney Park, Harrogate Road,
Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7XS
Off 0.8 miles / 3 minutes CCTV, floodlighting, security fencing and security patrols with guard dogs. No Trailers are permitted at no extra charge.

By train

The busy, modern railway station (occasionally called Leeds City Station), one of the biggest in the country with regular trains to a huge range of destinations all over the UK, is in the heart of the centre just off City Square.

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

By car

Leeds is possibly the best connected UK city by road, lying in the centre of the country, halfway between London and Edinburgh and halfway between Liverpool (west coast) and Hull (east coast). The M1 motorway runs from London via Milton Keynes, Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield and passes about 2 miles east of Leeds, to join the A1(M) at Wetherby. The M62 trans-Pennine motorway, which runs from the outskirts of Liverpool to a few miles from Hull, passes about 3 miles to the south of Leeds. The M621 motorway loop just to the south of the city centre, and connects with the M1 and M62. The Scott Hall Road scheme features a park and ride site to the north of Leeds, opened in the 1990s and caters for 157 cars. For much of the journey into Leeds, buses run on a guided busway beside (or down the middle of) the main road and are given priority over cars. (See National Park and Ride Directory.) WhizzGo, a national car 'club' (i.e. car hire organisation which charges a £50 annual membership fee) has a branch in Leeds, and offers pay-by-the-hour car hire across the city. Cars are accessible via a smart card and PIN.

By coach

By boat

The ferry can be caught from mainland Europe; Zeebrugge, Belgium or Rotterdam, The Netherlands to Kingston Upon Hull, which is approximately an hour from Leeds by car/train.

Get around

On foot

If you're just visiting the city centre, you might as well walk, as much of it is surprisingly compact with most of the major attractions and shops being within walking distance of one another. To orientate yourself, free maps (quite simple but good for basic orientation) are available at the tourist information and a number of visitor attractions. There are some street maps dotted around the city centre, in guide books, street atlases, etc. Getting around central Leeds is fairly easy.

By bus

Public transport within Leeds is good - most major bus routes within the city are every 10 minutes or so. Information about busses can be obtained either from the Corn Exchange Bus Point, where the First Travel Centre is staffed from 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 4:30pm on Saturdays or from the Leeds City Bus Station whose Information Help Point has the same opening hours.

Metro (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority) provides local bus and train information on its website, and offers the innovative My Next Bus service of real-time bus information gathered by satellite online or by text message. To find out when the next bus is due at your stop, text the 8 digit identity code of your bus stop (they all begin with 450) to 63876. To find the time of a particular bus, leave a space after the 8 digits and then add the number of your bus route. This real-time information is also displayed in certain bus shelters

For visitors wishing to explore Leeds city centre CityBus - loops around much of the city centre every 6–7 minutes between 6:30am and 7:30pm; one journey costs 50p, or you can use a bus pass. If using this service at busy times of day it's best to catch the bus at either the Bus Station or Rail Station; if a bus is full, it will not stop to take on more passengers and you could be waiting in excess of an hour. Please note that this bus is no longer free.

First runs most of the bus services within Leeds. If you are making more than a couple of short bus trips, the best option is to buy a "FirstDay" day ticket for £4.00 (M-F before 9:30am) or £3.20 (other times), which allows unlimited travel on First Bus routes within West Yorkshire all day.

Useful bus routes for visitors include the following:

By taxi

Taxis can be expensive, but the black and white ones are licensed and safer than private hire cabs. The black and white taxis can be flagged down, but you must phone first for the others.

In the city centre, try Amber Taxis (advance booking only, +44 113 231-1366): you can get around the city centre for about £3-7.

In south Leeds, try Local Cars (advance booking only, +44 113 252-8258): a journey for less than a mile is £2.70.

By rail

There is a limited suburban train service which serves some tourist destinations such as Headingley Stadium, but plans are underway for a radical overhaul of the city's transport system since the proposed tram system has had its funding withdrawn by the government.

By boat

There is a shuttle boat between Granary Wharf (for Leeds City Station), Brewery Wharf and Clarence Dock (for the Royal Armouries Museum), operated by Leeds City Cruisers.

See

City centre

Town Hall

Although not considered a 'traditional' tourist destination, Leeds has plenty to occupy the visitor. As well as the main sights, museums, galleries, parks etc., wandering around the buzzing city centre to take in the atmosphere and admire the fantastic blend of architectural styles from the past few hundred years is a pleasure in itself. Within the city centre, the main districts are the civic quarter, central shopping district, exchange quarter and financial district.

Victoria Quarter
Inside Corn Exchange

Brewery Wharf

South across the river from The Call the area around Leeds Dock has some interesting development of cafés, restaurants, shops and apartments as wells as the Royal Armouries Museum and Salem Chapel.

Civic Quarter

Home to the Town Hall, the fantastic Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute and Millennium Square, this grand corner of the city is where many of the main tourist draws are to be found. The Light with its shops, restaurants, bars, hotel, cinema etc. in a beautifully converted historic building is a major pull, but venture along the Headrow and experience some of the best cultural attractions on offer in the city. The Art Gallery has great rotating exhibitions and the best collection of 20th century British art outside London. Adjoining it are the Henry Moore Institute and the Central Lending Library with its beautiful Victorian interior. Across the road is the Town Hall (see above), a breathtaking demonstration of civic pride.

On Great George St is a small selection of shops, the 19th century entrance (with a lovely colonial-style entrance hallway and small gallery space up the stairs) of the Leeds General Infirmary, and the recently restored Electric Press which is now home to the Carriageworks Theatre and several bars and restaurants, providing a semi-al fresco eating environment for all weather conditions. Next door is the impressive and well-used public space of Millennium Square (see above) with its attractive Mandela Gardens (opened by Mandela himself, now a freeman of the city, they are a lovely spot especially in summer) abutting the Electric Press building. The square is crowned with the Portland Stone neo-classical Civic Hall and the new City Museum (opened in 2008). Down on Cookridge St is the city's small but unique Arts and Crafts St Anne's Cathedral.

Central Shopping District

The very centre of Leeds is a temple to consumerism. Bounded by the 'Public Transport Box', a rough half mile square between The Headrow, Vicar Lane, Boar Lane and Park Row gives Leeds one of the most compact, busy and diverse pedestrian shopping districts in the UK where the highest concentration of the city centre's stores are to be found.

The principal shopping street is the broad and bustling Briggate (recently attractively repaved), where many flagship stores such as Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, Debenhams are to be found alongside high-end fashion (e.g. Louis Vuitton) and high street favourites (Topshop, Zara, H&M) etc. Briggate's attractive and eclectic architecture spans three centuries, and the grand shop fronts only add to the streets appeal.

Either side of the top end of Briggate are the city's famous arcades, splendidly palatial Victorian roofed-over shopping streets home to some of the city's most exclusive and interesting shops. The famous Victoria Quarter (Victoria St, County Arcade and Cross Arcade) has some of the most expensive clothes in Leeds. Queen's and Thornton's arcades are a little more affordable with more independent stores. Down from the arcades, several medieval yards (or "loins") run off almost hidden from between shopfronts on Briggate. Whilst some are little more than shop-backs and some are now closed off, some exude genuine historic atmosphere and a few are home to attractive pubs and bars, including The Angel Inn, The Ship, The Bay Horse, Queen's Court and three-hundred-year-old Whitelocks'.

Beyond Briggate, there are several other prominent shopping streets, including gorgeously symmetrical King Edward Street with its matching Victorian Burmantoft terracotta buildings. Commercial Street, Kirkgate, Lands Lane and Albion St are other principal streets in the area, continuing the mix of shops, cafés, lovely architecture. There are also several indoor shopping centres, and a central focal point is tiny but busy Central Square at the base of Lands Lane. Albion Place is a quieter street of elegant Georgian buildings (mainly offices) including the exclusive Leeds Club and the city's central private members library, running between the square and Albion St. Swan Street is a quiet and pretty little street between Briggate and Lands Lane with a few attractive little shops, cafés and bars and a laid-back vibe, as well as the internationally famous City Varieties theatre and music-hall, once home to Charlie Chaplin.

Exchange Quarter

Centred on the massive dome of the Corn Exchange, the Exchange Quarter is the centre of Leeds' bohemian life, with one-off boutiques, funky cafés and piercing parlours filling its pretty cobbled streets. It is becoming increasingly chic, however, with a plethora of upscale bars and stylish restaurants, particularly on Call Lane.

The Corn Exchange dominates the area, sitting squattly at the junction of several major roads. This grand Victorian building is one of the finest in the city, and was a functioning corn market for several decades, but was almost unused for much of the twentieth century, until its restoration to its present form in the 1980s. It now houses a myriad of little boutiques, a few cafés and market stalls. The goth and emo teenagers that hang around outside frequent many of the shops such as Grin and Exit, but there are also a range of fashion and artisan stores to please all, and the beautiful architecture (the shops fit into the retained 19th-century store-fronts, and the domed roof is spectacular from the interior) can be enjoyed by everyone.

Three sides of the Corn Exchange are bounded by semi-pedestrian cobbled streets lined by a hotch potch of attractive Victorian buildings home to shops and restaurants from Blue Rinse (see below) to Pizza Express, housed in the beautiful Third White Cloth Hall, sadly sliced in half by the railway in the mid-nineteenth century, but retaining its lovely façade and clock-tower. Along the railway, the continental feel continues with bars and cafés that spill on to the pavement. Beautiful Assembly Street, a hub of nightlife, is lined with elegant and imposing eighteenth-century warehouses and has been recently repaved, and in the summer is a relaxing place to sip a coffee or cocktail and admire the buildings and atmosphere. Nearby Crown Street buildings are a fine example of modern architecture at its finest, sympathetic to the surrounding environment but adding a dash of vibrancy with bright use of colour above its restaurants and bars.

Call Lane, the area's main drag, is a hive of activity in the evenings, with several of the city's best and most stylish bars, all vying for attention. In the day-time however it is much quieter, with a few vintage and alternative clothes stores at the Kirkgate end, and musical instrument shops located at the Calls end. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had from wondering around the pretty and historic medieval yards that run between Call Lane and Lower Briggate (at night these too come alive and are full of revelers).

Kirkgate is currently a fairly downmarket shopping street with a few off-beat stores. However plans are afoot to refurbish the historic town-houses and bring life back into the street as a centre for independent shops, with the renovation of the dilapidated First White Cloth Hall along similar (if smaller) lines to the Corn Exchange. The east end of Kirkgate and New York Street also increasingly have a number of bars and clubs, including the celebrated Northern Light; there are also several new apartment buildings springing up. The end of Kirkgate is market by Leeds Parish Church, a grand (if not enormous) neo-gothic structure home to one of the country's most revered children's choirs. To the west, Central Road links Kirkgate to Duncan Street, and is home to some attractive Flemish-style buildings, a few off-beat shops and the acclaimed Little Tokyo restaurant and Leeds institution the HiFi Club. Duncan Street has a number of small shops.

The Calls was where riverside life restarted in Leeds, with its renovation from a derelict nowhere to the city's most desirable real estate in the 1980s. The apartments lining the waterfront may not be as exclusive or as rare today, but it is still an attractive and expensive area, home to some of Leeds' longest running high-end establishments including 42 The Calls hotel, Pool Court and the Calls Grill. Some of the waterfront and streets around here are surprisingly yet to be fully renovated, but it's unlikely to be long before developers get their claws into the remaining warehouses, railway arches and mill-cottages. Leeds Civic Trust's heritage centre and left-wing arts centre The Common Place fill the gap between the Calls and the railway line.

Financial District

Whilst the Financial District does not have the obvious draws of the Civic Quarter, it is nonetheless an interesting area that deserves at least a little of your time. Roughly bounded by the Headrow and Westgate to the North, the A58 motorway to the West, the River Aire to the South and Park Row to the East, this is the most expensive business real estate in the city. Many large companies have their offices here as well as innumerable lawyers, estate agents, etc.

Park Square is probably the number one attraction of the area. Situated just south-west of the Town Hall, this large and handsome Georgian Square has lovely formal gardens that fill up with workers at lunchtime in the warmer months. Whilst most of the square is bounded by rows of 18th century redbrick townhouses that made the square one of the city's most fashionable addresses 200 years ago, the South West corner is home to a little-known architectural highlight of Leeds, a converted warehouse (now offices) built in the 19th century as a replication of a Moorish Palace, complete with turrets and Islamic-style ornate design. The streets to the south of Park Square are a mixture of Georgian townhouses and more modern office buildings sitting cheek-by-jowl. Whilst not hugely diverting, there are several interesting buildings in this area. Wellington Street, a busy thoroughfare which marks the bottom of the Georgian area, has several restaurants and bars as well as being characterised by more modern business development.

Between East Parade and Park Row, two busy main routes through the area, are a series of parallel streets that are home to some of the city's top restaurants and bars, most famously Greek Street. There is a rich patchwork of architecture spanning the past two centuries in this small area, with fine Gothic buildings and sleek modern towers. Park Row itself boasts outstanding buildings such as the Leeds Permanent building, blending seamlessly into modern glass building-fronts.

The south-east corner of the Financial District is City Square, one of the most important hubs of city life. Recently cleaned up and repaved, the square is still home to bronze nymphs holding gas lights and the famous statue of the Black Prince. The old post office is now the swanky Restaurant Bar & Grill and Loch Fyne seafood restaurant. A rarely beautiful 1990s office block sits at No1 City Square, and the south side is taken up by the Art Deco façade of grand old dame of the Leeds Railway hotel trade, The Queens Hotel (L.N.E.R.).

Other attractions

Future attractions

N.B. under construction or planned for the future:

Possible Itineraries

In fine weather

You'll almost certainly be in the city centre, so why not take in some of the magnificent Victorian architecture on a walking tour?

Start at the train station and head into City Square where you will see the old Post Office and imposing Queens Hotel.

Go up the right of the Old Post Office (Infirmary St) and cross over the road onto Saint Paul's Street.

Take the second street on the right and you will come across the pretty Park Square gardens. Continue along Park Square East until you reach The Headrow, from where you will be able to see the Town Hall.

Turn right along the Headrow and you will also pass the City Library (free to enter) and Art Gallery (also free), you may also want to try a cup of tea in the Tiled Hall Cafe, between the Art Gallery and Library.

Turn left up Cookridge Street, pass the Leeds Cathedral and cross over Great George St. You will now have reached Millennium Square, the Civic Hall and the City Museum.

If you turn back towards the Cathedral and take an immediate left after the Cathedral on to St Anne's St. you will come to a small square and the entrance to 'The Light. Inside The Light (open most hours) take the escalators, exiting at the far end on to Albion Street.

A right turn will bring you back to The Headrow. Turn left and you will pass Dortmund Square and the former Allders Department store (now Sainsburys). On the right turn down Briggate, one of the city's main streets. Take a look up some of the arcades on either side of Briggate (you are now in the main shopping quarter), for which Leeds is famous.

On the left you will come to the Victoria Quarter. If this is open take a walk through and exit at the far end. If closed, walk a little further and turn left on to King Edward St.

You are now on Vicar Lane and a right turn will take you past Leeds City Market on the left. Walk a little further and you will see the huge dome of the former Corn Exchange on the left - take a look inside for some quirky individual shops or maybe pop downstairs for a cup of tea at Anthony's.

You can now extend the walk a little along the riverside, or follow Duncan St and Boar Lane back to the train station.

To extend the walk, go around the Corn Exchange along a cobbled street and go under the bridge. Turn left on to The Calls. After a short while you will see a fountain with a huge ball, turn right on to this street (also The Calls). On the right there is a pedestrian bridge - cross the river here and you are in Brewery Wharf. Once over the bridge you need to go left along the river following signs for the Royal Armouries. Eventually you will come to Clarence Dock which has shops and restaurants plus the Royal Armories Museum (free entry). To get back to the station go back the way you came to the Corn Exchange, then follow Duncan Street and Boar Lane.

In bad weather

There's plenty to do to spend a couple of hours. The City Museum, Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute, Markets, Library and Royal Armories are all free, indoors and walkable in the city centre. Many of the city centre shops are undercover due to being in arcades or shopping centres. The following route tours many of the shops without getting too wet: the Merrion Centre, St Johns Centre, the Core, Queens Arcade, Victoria Quarter, Debenhams then the expansive Trinity Leeds with M&S and next. Out of the city centre, Tropical World costs just £3.30, is indoors and very warm in Roundhay, 3 miles north of the city centre.

Do

Events

Cinema

Leeds holds two annual film festivals: the increasingly prestigious Leeds International Film Festival with its huge menu of different films and Leeds Young People's Film Festival . Cinemas in surrounding areas include Odeon Leeds Bradford (Thornbury: 7 miles) ; Showcase (Birstall: 6 miles) ; Vue, Kirkstall (2 miles) and Xscape Castleford (10 miles) .

Theatre & comedy

Live music

Leeds is a great place to see up-and-coming talent, and has seen the formation of successful bands such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Kaiser Chiefs and Sunshine Underground. The city is home to many live performances from big-name stars, mostly at outdoor concerts. Millennium Square in the city centre regularly has gigs with a 7,000 capacity. Leeds recently built an indoor concert arena with around 14,000 seats.

Sport

There are plenty of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools across the city, though unfortunately there won't be a public swimming pool in the city centre until the University one is completed. Major city centre fitness/leisure centres are deluxe Esporta, LA fitness and the ubiquitous Virgin Active. Some hotels have great leisure facilities or agreements with local centres for free access for guests.

Parks

Whilst hardly tropical, Leeds has an unusually mild and sunny climate for northern England, protected from the worst and wettest weather by the Pennine Hills to the west ... this gives more than ample opportunity to explore the fantastic parks of one of Europe's greenest cities (Leeds has the most green space in its city limits of any European city other than Vienna).

Learn

Leeds University, Parkinson Building

Leeds is one of the UK and Europe's foremost university cities, with a student population of over 100,000 (10%+ of the population!) concentrated on several higher educational facilities including the two main universities. This gives the city a young feel and lively buzz, and many bars, clubs and restaurants are geared towards students particularly in Headingley and North West Leeds, although if this isn't your scene the city has plenty to offer away from student life.

Buy

Opening Times


City centre - Mon-Sat 09:00-20:00 Sun 10:00-17:00. Other areas - 09:00-17:00.

City centre shops number well over 1,000, made up of modern shopping centres, the lovely arcades and busy streets - principally Briggate, a wide and attractive pedestrian street with all the high street favourites and much more (from time to time there are markets and other events, and there are usually street performances of some kind). Much of the central shopping area is pleasantly pedestrianised, making retail therapy even easier. Leeds has myriad options for shopping including the beautiful Victorian-era shopping arcades, offering anything from the reasonably priced to the expensive items. In November and December, Millennium Square is turned into a Christmas wonderland of stalls, eateries and fairground-rides for Christkindelmarkt - the city's German Christmas market. There are also several outdoor markets held across the city more regularly, including occasional French markets on Briggate. Plans are also afoot for a massive extension of the main shopping district. City Centre Shopping Centres include all:

1904 Hall, Kirkgate Market

The districts of Chapel Allerton, Headingley and Roundhay also offer a smaller (but worthwhile) range of boutiques and other shops. Crossgates in East Leeds has a medium sized shopping centre and many highstreet shops and cafés, and Horsforth in the North West offers a range of shops and eateries.

Food

Of course, as with almost all of the UK today, supermarkets, M&S Simply Food and other chains dominate the food-shop market, but there are an increasing number of quality independent delicatessens, bakeries and other little food shops across the city. Many out-of-centre areas retain their local shops (though this cannot be said for everywhere) and the city centre has an impressive range on offer, including:

The lively area of Harehills (bus no 12, 13, 49 or 50) in East Leeds has a bad reputation locally for crime and poverty, and whilst the visitor should be aware that it is maybe best not to flash expensive items or visit the area after dark, it is worth visiting for its fantastic range of food shops, cafés and restaurants from across the world. A true cultural melting pot, the area has everything from Jamaican grill-houses to Indian restaurants, Persian tea-shops to Eastern European supermarkets, and if you want to experience authentic international food or simply see another side of the city, it is an interesting place to go - and prices are far lower than in many other areas.

Books, CDs, DVDs

Leeds has all the major chains such as HMV, Waterstones, WHSmith, etc. and also a variety of smaller independent shops including Crash Records on The Headrow and Jumbo Records in the St. John's Centre, which hosts fairly regular instore performances (there's also lots of second hand places - including a massive, well-stocked Oxfam Books & Music in Headingley)

Eat

There are many restaurants in central Leeds that everyone can find something to their taste and budget. There are all the usual chains (many of which have several branches in the city) and a huge variety of one-off places, including many award-winners. Headingley, Chapel Allerton, Roundhay and various other districts outside the centre also have a range of quality eateries (whilst a few places in these areas are mentioned below, fuller selections can be found on their respective guides). It is possible to have food delivered from a selection of top Leeds restaurants for a fee .

Café culture is thriving in Leeds, with a great number of places for a lunch or lighter meal, and there are also many fine curry houses in the city, due to the large South Asian population.

Leeds has a successful annual food and drink festival, held at the end of August, with many free events bookable in advance.

Bridgewater Place

Drink

Leeds' two large universities mean there is a vibrant, diverse and thumping nightlife scene including many clubs as well as a huge range of fine drinking establishments from traditional pubs to ultra chic concept bars. It is estimated that there are over 180 city centre bars and pubs, and around 29 nightclubs with late licenses. Railway arches are increasingly popular homes for bars and clubs across the length of the city centre. Leeds City Guide is a good source of information, as is the comprehensive (and excellent) listings magazine the Leeds Guide. Leeds was voted Number one city for clubbing . All areas (indeed, most streets) of central Leeds offer something in the way of nightlife, but the main areas are:

Out of the city centre, the districts of Headingley and Chapel Allerton are extremely popular for bars and restaurants. Exclusive Street Lane in Roundhay is also becoming increasingly popular. (See their respective guides for details on specific drinking spots in these areas.)


Leeds Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) offer free pub guides from their website. What follows is a selection of some of Leeds' highlights, but it is by no means definitive or all-inclusive!

Leeds' thriving gay village (the city's first annual Pride festival launched in 2006) has a number of venues, including the ever-popular old stalwart Queen's Court, Lower Briggate housed in a fine 17th century building, among notable others including Fibre, The Bridge Inn, Blayds Bar, The New Penny, The Viaduct and Religion to name a few.


Leeds was voted Best UK City for Clubbing, certainly not for nothing! People flock to the city from all parts of the country for a bit of the action. It is common to meet clubbers from London on a night out. The city centre is packed to bursting with bars and clubs, ranging from cutting edge chic to indie and alternative to cheesy tunes for the drunken masses to small select places for people who really like their music (house is still very much in vogue in Leeds, but whatever your musical taste is, you are guaranteed to find something). Here is a short list of some of the best and/or most popular places in the city at the moment:


There are several gay nights (and fully gay venues) in clubs on and around Lower Briggate, including Mission, Fibre and Queen's Court.

The West Indian Centre on Chapeltown Road has a reputation for great fun nights of a less-mainstream kind, including ever-popular monthly Subdub. Whilst the venue itself is friendly and safe (or as safe as can be expected from a club), Chapeltown has a bad reputation, and to avoid trouble, go in fairly large groups and don't wonder around outside. It is best to take a taxi or at least a bus. Don't walks the two miles from the centre as it is very difficult to find the place, and it is near rough estates.

Sleep

There are currently no Youth Hostels in Leeds except during the summer months when a temporary city centre hostel operates. However plans are afoot for a permanent hostel to open shortly. There are a number of B&Bs behind the university on Woodsley Rd, 20 minutes walk from the city centre and less than half an hour from the station. Cardigan Rd in Headingley also has a range of B&Bs, right next to the Cricket Ground, minutes from the shops, bars and restaurants of central Headingley and on the 18 & 56 bus routes into the city centre.

A useful alternative to hotels can be to stay in self-catering accommodation. There are a number of serviced apartment providers in Leeds, with many apartments in the city centre.

Stay safe

Leeds is known as a friendly city, but as with any other city, the usual tips about exercising a degree of common caution apply: leave no valuables unattended, avoid going to badly lit/shady/unknown places by yourself or walk around alone at night, etc.

There are some notorious areas of Leeds at night with seedy reputations, such as the unrejuvenated areas of Chapeltown (particularly Spencer Place, a red light district), Holbeck and Mabgate. Whilst by and large these places are safe by day, it is best to avoid risking trouble.

It is also advisable to avoid displaying any memorabilia or clothing of football team Manchester United (the city's football rivals), particularly in the more sulubrious parts of town (though one can expect few problems around the city centre). Similarly, Leeds is an extremely proud city and disrespecting the area will almost certainly result in a hostile reaction to such comments. If you do encounter any trouble, the emergency services (police, ambulance, fire) number is the same as for the rest of the country: 999, or the new European wide emergency number: 112.

If you do happen to get ill in Leeds, there are of course NHS and private medical practices all across the city. The Light complex houses a NHS walk in centre and Leeds is also home to two of Europe's largest hospitals - Leeds General Infirmary (in the Civic Quarter) and rapidly expanding St James' (a couple of miles east of the City Centre and just south of Harehills), as well as numerous smaller hospital and PCTs across the wider city area. As with the rest of the UK, tap water is safe to drink, and you are unlikely to come across any major health risks other than speeding traffic and the effects of alcohol.

Cope

From February 2015, the main tourist information office for the city is in Leeds Art Gallery on the Headrow, but there are various other information points across the city (e.g. Central Lending Library, The Headrow). For foreign visitors Leeds has a range of consulates, including: Danish, 6-7 Park Place, City Centre; Dutch, 12 King Street, City Centre, ; German, 1 Whatehall Road, City Centre, and Greek, 8 Street Lane, Roundhay.

There are 12 Changing Places toilet facilities within 5 miles of Leeds city centre, equipped with hoists, height adjustable changing benches and other facilities to enable people with multiple and profound disabilities to be changed and so enabling tourists with these needs to visit Leeds attractions in safety and dignity and stay as long as they wish. Sites include the Central Library Tiled Cafe, Chevin Forest Park, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Headingley HEART, Armley Leisure Centre, Morley Leisure Centre, White Rose Shopping Centre and Temple Newsom.

Go next

Leeds is the railway hub of much of Northern England, and railways serve York, Harrogate, Knaresborough, most of West Yorkshire and parts of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle railway is one of the most scenic routes in the country. By road, the A64 leads to York, the A61 to Harrogate and the A65 to the Dales - there are plentiful bus services to these destinations.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.